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Kissa IPL Contract Ka

Rajdeep tweets that a media house is investigating the IPL because it lost a lucrative contract. Who’s he referring to?

Rajdeep Sardesai twitter

A tweet by Rajdeep Sardesai on the coverage of the IPL scandal by news channels created a buzz on Twitter a week back. His tweet stated that one media house in particular was going hammer and tongs after the IPL fiasco because the media house had lost out on a “lucrative contract”.

Rajdeep Sardesai on IPL

What followed was another nugget of the Editor’s Take.

Rajdeep Sardesai on IPL 1

Certainly, the twitterati had something new to wonder about. Who was Rajdeep alluding to? Questions poured in on his timeline. Who was he tweeting about…?  Inevitably Times Now was the first name that popped up in the tweets of those doing guesswork.

arnab Goswami

But Mr Sardesai had already bid the Twitterverse goodnight. He never revisited his tweet or bothered to answer the questions on his timeline. But he had already done his job. Raised suspicion. After all, The Times of India and Times Now have ensured that IPL remains in the headlines for over two weeks with its aggressive reportage on the issue. What’s more, both have been running campaigns against the spot-fixing scandal – with the innovatively and dramatically named “Kill these games, save sports” and “Leading India on the IPL story” running simultaneously.

Not big fans of conjecture, Newslaundry tried getting the facts straight from the horse’s mouth. But Mr Sardesai simply refused to answer our calls or reply to our mails. Not to be outdone, like Vindoo on the trail of a good bet, we went through a checklist of the media houses to check which of them has any existing or prospective business link with IPL and BCCI. And bingo! All but one media group has a multi-crore contract with the IPL.

So, was Rajdeep referring to Times Now in his tweet?

Times Internet Limited, the online wing of Times Group headed by Sameer Jain’s son-in-law Satyan Gajwani won the bid for IPL’s global internet, mobile and radio rights, along with television rights in certain television territories in 2011. Times Internet Limited bought the rights for a total fee of Rs 261.6 crore for four years between 2011-14.  This year, it entered into a partnership with DigiVive’s mobile television service nexGTv to secure the official mobile streaming rights for IPL 2013.

The question was, after the damage Times Now and TOI have singlehandedly done to the image of IPL and BCCI did the contract still stand strong? According to the business head and manager of overall strategy for IPL of Times Internet Ltd, “The contract is very much on and there is no problem with the BCCI. We are in regular touch with BCCI and they understand the difference between editorial content and business. There has been no souring of ties with BCCI because of either Times Now’s or TOI’s negative reporting on the IPL.”

So, whether or not Rajdeep was referring to Times Now in his tweet, it’s good to see that despite having a contract worth many crore, Times Now and TOI didn’t compromise their coverage on the IPL.

Blast from the past

The reason why the twitterverse thought the “media house” was Times Now could also be because this isn’t the first time that Times Group is being accused of witch-hunting by its rivals. In 2010, when the CWG scandal broke, Times Now and TOI relentlessly reported on the financial irregularities in the CWG and held Indian Olympic Association chief, Suresh Kalmadi responsible. Back then, it was alleged that Times Now and TOI had a vendetta against CWG owing to the Organising Committee turning down its request to be made the official media partner for the games. Eventually, TOI’s competitor, Hindustan Times and its partner Hungama won the contract for creating a website to put out realtime information on the games.

But even as TOI and Times Now were being accused of unfairly hounding Suresh Kalmadi for their own business interests, the CAG report on CWG revealed how CNN-IBN and NDTV were awarded contracts arbitrarily by the Games’ authorities.  So, the “lucrative contract” which Rajdeep seemed dismissive of, once fell on his plate as well. Did he send out a tweet saying, “Extremely happy, arbitrarily won a CWG contract worth many crore”? Nope.

The CAG report says: “Organising Committee awarded contracts for Rs. 3.78 crore for production and broadcasting of commercials for promoting the CWG-2010 to CNN-IBN and NDTV. An arbitrary approach was followed, with no planning for specific channels and time slots, cost-benefit analysis, benchmarking of rates and tenders. Proposals were considered, in an ad hoc manner, as and when a proposal was received; no form of competitive tendering was adopted.”

Like public memory, the memory of our channel heads too seems really short. Newslaundry spoke to Pradyumn Maheshwari, editor-in-chief of mxm India and writer of the blog mediaah - one of the earliest media critique blogs – about Rajdeep’s claims. He says, “I don’t think it’s true as the concerned channel and the concerned contract are very much in place. Similar charges were levied against a certain media group during CWG. There was nothing to prove it. However, if these charges were to be true, we must accept them as the unfortunate reality of media business”.

While we still don’t know the truth behind Rajdeep’s tweet or who he was referring to, maybe – if this wasn’t just a random tweet by an addled brain – Rajdeep should have named the channel and done a news report on it. Defending Rajdeep’s tweet, Gaurav Kalra, Sports Editor of CNN IBN said, “No one can name anyone until there is evidence to back it. We are still not in the domain of reporting against the media. Some information remains in the domain of opinion or gossip. To be reported, it has to have some news worthiness.”

Point taken – no evidence, no newsworthiness. Plain gossip. To end on a very Rajdeepish Note:

For the media to retain and restore its credibility, it is important that it starts reporting stories on itself. If a certain media house is accused of wrongdoing, it is the duty of other channels and newspapers to report on it objectively. It is very sad to see that eminent members of the media only talk about the wrongdoings of their fraternity behind closed doors and in cosy circles. To lay claim to self-regulation, the media must start investigating allegations against its own fraternity. Naming and shaming is the way forward. Not tweeting.  

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  • nIDHI

    SOLD SOULS- INDIAN MEDIA

    • http://goo.gl/xmqVE Mitesh

      Sold Souls – Indians. Period.

      P.S. myself included.

  • Aaliya Khan

    I wonder if the color of Kareena’s nailpolish has oodles of newsworthiness.
    Also, it’s commendable that Arsnub didn’t think about conflict of interests and not report against the BCCI

  • Abhi

    Rajdeep is a hypocrite.

  • Media Detergent

    NL we indians are really greatful to you for what you have been doing to cleanse this self proclaimed fourth pilar of joke called democracy. & thanks to you somi for revealing media’ dirty laundry here…KUDOS!!

  • madhukar nikam

    TOI if is opening can of worm, whenever they loose contracts, I suppose its time for CNN-IBN knowing well that UPA will not have 3 rd term , must take cue and inform the nation what prompted them from not broadcasting cash for votes scam??

  • pr_0_xy

    One can find dirt on anyone & everyone, just need to know where to look…
    Times Medianet, NDTV & CNN-IBN are all on the same boat… cannot exonerate one & implicate the other.

    To quote Rajdeep’s favorite line: “Hammam Mein Sab Nange Hain”… but only a few unlucky folks have to face the indignation of being exposed in public.

    There’s enough dirt out there on Times Medianet & not finding ‘evidence’ regarding Times amplifying or killing a story for monetary & other considerations does not always mean its not true, it could also mean, we have not searched for it hard enough…

  • Ravi

    Newslaundry,

    Your tag line – Sab ki Dhulai

    Do you think you can clean up the media? I am not discouraging or trying to sound cynical.

    You need to get to the bottom of it all on what motivates them to go so blatantly against the country and attack those policies, principles and expose the hollowness of their philosophies. The irony is, you still need the media to get the message through to the public as well. Therein lies the challenge. Simply condemning the acts of hardened people will not clean; the dirt has sunk deep into the fabric.

    Regards,

    Ravi

  • Roark

    Thanks to the author and NL team to pick this up and try to reach him.
    Few interesting things from the article…
    1) New trend among public figures or maybe old wine in new package. The truth will only come out if their are personal scores to be settled down…We saw it in the case of Ranjit Sinha and if this article is to be believed even in the media houses. I can’t say whether its right or wrong, because at least the common man is getting the news but what amount is fabricated and planted, its really tough to decipher. But one thing is a clear writing on the wall, you can’t expect these people to have morality of their own, and do things out of their conscience.
    2) If media can’t do reporting on oneself than whom do they expect to clear the rot…Aliens..???…..They don’t want to be regulated, they are still “not comfortable” doing stories about each other ( Mentioned in the article and same thing was said by Barkha Dutt in her interview)…and they are not willing to work ethically…..than who are they to raise questions against “any” wrongdoings in the society..??…Who will clean their own backyard..???..Media, as an institution thrives on one term called as “Credibility”…Where is that..???…Already, thrown out of the window….eh..??
    3) Mr Rajdeep Sardesai, if you don’t have guts to reveal the name..why did you tweet..???….In the cases of politicians and celebrities, where these reporters have nothing to write…they would mention something completely untrue in the disguise of so called “sources”….and when it comes to their own society….they still think it is a “gossip” and can’t be reported….Well, one day these “unrevealed backdoor gossips” will burn this industry into ashes…We all are waiting…!!!

    • NAVEEN DHIGHE

      YOU ARE SPOT ON

  • Vasishta

    Nicely written, well researched article

  • Raoji

    The author of this article is some sort of a genius.Love the way the article was written and the way it ended

  • K.Ravishankar

    Let us assume that Rajdeep is right. But he is unwilling to name and shame his media colleague. Something like “coalition dharma” touted out by politicians. So, isn’t that a strong case an independent regulatory body? I think we need one.

    Regards,

    Ravi